Do married people run out of things to talk about? Have you passed cars on the road where a couple is sitting, each looking straight ahead...and you have the feeling they haven't talked with one another for hours? And how about restaurants, where you see couples who seem to have little to say to each other? Is it inevitable that after a number of years, husbands and wives simply run out of things to say?
A long time ago I asked a wise man I knew in San Francisco for the secret sauce--the essential ingredient-- for a successful marriage. He responded that the answer often surprises people. It isn't money. It isn't sex. No, he said, it's having things to talk about.
In his view, successful marriages require both the partners to do two things:
1) Be interested
2) Be interesting
He explained that you need to be curious, to keep your antenna working at all times, to be interested in the world around you as well as the world far away. If you are interested, you will take pains to be an active listener, because that is how you learn interesting things. He said it is important to assume that whoever you meet has something interesting for you to know and that your job is to ask the kind of questions that ferret out whatever that is. From the taxi driver to the bodega owner to your, yes, spouse.
Additionally, you need to stay interesting yourself. Of course, you are halfway there if you have shown interest in everyone else...and the things happening around you as well as around the world, because in that effort you've learned a great deal that you can share with others. Hence, you continue to be interesting.
This goes to the heart of the art of conversation. We all know what a bad conversation feels like. The other person is either not interested in us, or is not interesting himself. Or herself. Perhaps it is news to some folks that the very things that make for great conversations are the same things that hold friendships, marriages--all relationships, for that matter--together.
Bottom line is that if you make an effort to have interesting conversations, you'll probably delight your spouse...and find your spouse more fascinating as well. Who knew it could be that easy?